I'm sure that most of us have heard of the benefits of meditation. There are plenty such as less anxiety, better sleep, greater emotional intelligence, body awareness, deepened breathing, lower heart rate, & greater connection with self to name a few. But what happens when you just can't meditate? What if every time you try you think of horrible things that cause panic? What if you can't be still? What if you fall asleep? What can you do to reap the rewards of this practice when your mind & body will not cooperate? In this post I'm going to give you practical tips to help you craft a practice that works for you.
What Meditation is & isn't
Contrary to a lot of beliefs, meditation is not the practice of stopping your thoughts. It is the practice of noticing your thoughts objectively. So what does that mean Evangela? Have you ever been able to hear your thoughts as if they are a separate thing from you? It's a kin to becoming aware that you are thinking something all of a sudden. There is a part of you thinking the thought & there is a part of you that knows you are thinking the thought. This part of us is known as the observer self. You can detach this consciousness from the thoughts you have constantly running to actually hear what is being said to/about you. This is not split personalities, voices that tell you to do violent things, or dissociative identity disorder. It is a natural part of us that is very beneficial when meditating and doing healing work. When you are able to do this, you gain a powerful tool to understand a lot about yourself.
Meditation is a practice of awareness and focus. You are simply contemplating something. It can be done with the eyes open or closed. It can be done while walking or sitting still. I want to focus on the word practice for a moment. For some reason, people believe that they have to be meditation masters and sit completely still for an hour or more to reap the benefits of meditation when they are starting out. This is completely untrue. Yes, meditation masters have built their practice to the point that they can do that but they too started somewhere and it wasn't the one hour mark. Being kind to yourself as you learn what style of meditation works best for you is paramount. Perhaps you can try meditation in small increments.
Types of Meditation
Mindfulness meditation- This is the practice of being fully present to what you are doing in the moment. Say for instance if you are taking a walk, be fully present to the process of walking and taking in the moment fully. What does the walking surface feel like underneath your feet? Is it hot or cold outside? What do your surroundings look like? How do you feel right now? You can even say in your head, "I am walking now" to help you stay focused on the task at hand. Try this with any tasks you are undertaking. I like this one because it teaches me to be present in the moment.
Contemplative meditation- This is the practice of contemplating something. I often contemplate on my concept of God/Universe or whatever you choose to call it. If I have something particular that is constantly on my mind, even if it's unpleasant, I will use this type of meditation to better understand it.
Guided meditation- This type of meditation can be most helpful to those just starting out or if your mind is running wild. It helps give you a focal point with a guide leading you through a meditative process.
These are 3 ways to meditate that I think will be useful for those just starting out. Feel free to research & try whatever you feel led to try.
Please do not be discouraged when your mind will not be quiet to allow you to sit still. You are still meditating even if your mind is racing. Take the time to try to notice what thoughts are there & see if you can just allow them to be there without judging them. They will show you what you need to work on as well as what zaps your energy. Keep at it & don't give up. I have linked helpful resources for this in my resources blog post. I also wrote a post on mindfulness & trauma which you can read here.
I hope that this post helps you in your practice. Let me know what you are trying & if I can be of assistance. Thank you for reading & please share with someone who needs it.